University Honors Teaching Fellows

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Meet our Honors Faculty Fellows for the 2020-21 Year!


Fall 2020: Faculty Fellows in the Cluster on Cradle to Cradle

Edward Brunner, Professor Emeritus, English

The “Anthropocene” defines a time when the work of humans has devastatingly altered the planet’s environment. The results are unnerving enough to demand innovative approaches. This course studies the power of artworks in a variety of different formats (photography, painting, verse, dance, film, animation, and short fiction) to register the threat of a catastrophic future by engaging us both intellectually and emotionally. These artworks may also carry within them clues, tips, and promptings that offer alternative approaches to the crisis before us.   We will ask:

When artists and writers place the global environmental crisis at the center of their work, what should we expect as a takeaway? How do some artworks present themselves as “arts of living” – encounters that both explain and guide? Where can we find artworks that serve us both intellectually and emotionally?

Marsha Ryan p Thomas Britton

Marsha Ryan, M.D., School of Medicine and Tom Britton, J.D., School of Law

Bioethics is a field of study that involves the ethical considerations of scientific research and the application of scientific knowledge to humans, particularly in the practice of medicine. This course is taught by a physician and a lawyer who bring different approaches to bioethics questions. The topics covered include reproductive rights (Cradle), death and dying (Grave), medical experimentation on humans, and decision making for the elderly. As science progresses, the application of research results will raise new ethical questions, often of increasing complexity and difficulty.

Pinckney Benedict

Pinckney Benedict, Professor, English

This course asks students imaginatively to consider what a human diaspora from Earth to the stars might look like and what effects it might have on our conception of "humanity." Using novels, films, TV shows, computer games, podcasts, and VR experiences as our source material, the class will roleplay a multi-year galactic journey aboard a colony ship. Everyone is welcome to contribute their real-world skills, from any discipline or background, or to invent a fictional skillset. No experience in science fiction or technology is required. Coursework will consist of students' keeping detailed video and audio logs of their shipboard duties and off-duty lives; "away missions" that will involve scavenging for resources and encounters with alien lifeforms (faculty?); and finding inventive ways to live together and to cooperate in overcoming the inevitable obstacles that will crop up on such an adventure. By semester's end, we will either reach a habitable world, the cradle of a new human civilization (whatever we decide that will be), or we will drift forever, lost among the stars.

Jyotsna Kapur

Jyotsna Kapur, Professor, Cinema and Sociology

This course is an iteration of Innovations in Sustainability, a student generated course offered in Fall 2019.  We will study communities, practices, and principles that are pioneering ways of living, relating, and creating a sustainable future in the midst of the contemporary global environmental, economic, and political crises. The premise is that the new emerges from the old, both in nature and in human affairs.  What are the ways in which the new is being imagined and practiced in communities around the world?  How does this imaginary draw on a history of utopian thinking from the past?   What is it about our nature as a species that makes us have such a destructive and creative impact on our planet? What does re-inventing our way of life mean? Finally, what are the structural reasons for our current crisis?   We will find answers by drawing upon faculty from across disciplines on our campus and by students working in groups on projects that seek to build sustainable futures in the present.

Izumi Shimada

Izumi Shimada, Professor, Anthropology

In the early part of the 16th century, two totally independent and disparate civilizations, the Incas and the Spanish, confronted each other.   In this course, we ask:  What short- and long-term consequences, regional and global impacts have resulted from the fateful encounter in 1532?  How could a culture (lnca) without writing, markets, a monetary system, and other features that are commonly thought to be vital in a "civilization" attain the status of a great civilization? In fact, how did the lnca, a minority non-literate ethnic group establish and govern their vast empire?  What do we mean by a civilization or a civilized society?  What sources of information can be used and how can we cope with inherent biases in information and our own prejudices?   What are resilient and surviving indigenous Andean cultural practices, institutions, beliefs and techniques/technologies that are relevant and beneficial to modern life in and out of the Andes?  Against the lineal notion of From Cradle to Grave we will consider regeneration, invention, and ingenuity as fundamental aspects of human history.   In fact, the unilineal vision of "Cradle to Grave" is essentially not applicable to the Andean civilization (and many nonindustrial societies and cultures), past and present in both material and nonmaterial senses.

Other Honors Courses

Benjamin Bricker

Benjamin Bricker, Assistant Professor, Political Science

The 2020 election season will be a momentous time for American democracy. The choices  - both in policy and in character  - likely will be stark. In this course, we will examine the 2020 election as a current political and social event. We will also examine the 2020 election in the larger context of democratic theory and comparative democratic practices.

This course will address many of the largest questions in society today: What is the nature of democracy? What are the stakes in the 2020 election? How does the 2020 election impact the future direction of environmental, economic, and social policies in the United States? Can we use the U.S. election experience to draw larger insights and conclusions on democracy worldwide, and policy worldwide? How can we ensure that democracy will endure?

Bobbi Knapp Daniel Mahoney

Dr. Bobbi Knapp, Associate Professor of Sport Studies, Kinesiology and Dr. Daniel Mahoney, President, Southern Illinois University System

  • Intercollegiate Athletics: Origins Through Contemporary

Intercollegiate athletics has been referred to as the front porch of the modern U.S. university. What started out as student-run sport clubs at elite private institutions eventually became recruiting and marketing tools for colleges and universities throughout the U.S. This course will chart the history of intercollegiate athletics from its start on the playing fields of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and other private institutions as student-run, student-played, and student-coached sporting clubs to the development of the Power Five Conferences and football coaches who make over $8 million dollars a year. As part of this exploration, the course will also examine the impact of social class, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexuality, disability on the intercollegiate athletic experience. The content will also cover topics such as amateurism, labor unions, protests, academic scandals, sport-industrial-military complex, and reform.

Diana Tigerlily

Diana Tigerlily, Associate Professor of Practice, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Meditation is a practice of sustained concentration that calms the body and quiets the mind. Research has shown that meditation can reduce stress-related issues such as anxiety, chronic pain, and sleep disorders. In this course, students will cultivate a developed personal meditation practice, enhancing their own well-being and excluding peace to those around them. This course addresses the following questions: What is meditation and what is supposed to be “happening” while I’m meditating? How will meditation help me in my daily life and with my career? Who am I? What is my purpose in life? And why do these questions relate to meditation? How do I meditate if I have racing thoughts? What happens when I regulate the relationship between thinking and breathing? How will my personal meditation practice bring benefit to others around me?

Healing begins from a state of relaxation. This statement is deceptively simple and incredibly profound. As a society, we are far from relaxed. We normalize stress and glorify sleeping less; we value productivity over life quality and balance. This course introduces students to the practice and study of Yoga as a way to create and sustain a lifelong practice of self-awareness and healthy living. We will practice and study yoga postures and philosophies, including Hatha Yoga sequences for balance and renewal; The Yoga Sutras, emphasizing the Yamas (moral restraints), and the Niyamas (moral observances); and Eastern anatomies and applications for holistic health, such as the Koshas and the Chakras; and centering tools of breathing and meditation.

Jay Needham

Jay Needham, Professor, Radio, TV and Digital Media

This course considers sound from a variety of unique perspectives. We'll learn about how we, as humans hear, communicate, and create through the audio spectrum as well as how we use technology to extend our abilities to listen in to our environment and to others. We'll also ask critical questions about sound from eco-critical perspectives, delving into the nature of our species as capable of experiencing and producing sound within a specific range of the audible spectrum.  We will consider music as a defining feature of our humanity, the role it plays in our collective listening and creation of sound.  From break-beats, film soundtracks and sound archives, we are all active collectors and makers of sound. Finally, we'll consider the historical and personal connections that sound has to architecture.   It turns out that buildings can act as instruments and they also need voices. Where will your voice sound its presence?

Maria Johnson

Maria Johnson, Associate Professor, Music

How can yoga and sound practices help foster clearer thinking, emotional equilibrium, a sense of peace and wellbeing, balance, flow and ease in navigating your life? How can yoga and sound practices facilitate greater awareness, compassion, empathy, presence, and a deeper interpersonal communication? How can practices of yoga and sound create safe spaces that nurture internal processes and a sense of feeling at home in your body while fostering a sense of community and belonging? What is the power of yoga, sound/music, and other expressive arts?


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